If you listen to all of those ‘rise and grind’ Instagram gurus, they will tell you that a weekend is no excuse to recharge. In fact - so say these experts that aren’t really experts - you should utilise those two precious days away from work to go for a four hour long hike, create a new business concept which could act as a side hustle to your regular career or learn a new skill, like playing the guitar.
The thing is though, sometimes work is hard. Some weeks, after five days of meetings that could have been emails, impossible to achieve targets and supermarket meal deal lunches, you just want to be a sofa-bound zombie who only gets up from the couch to order in a pizza. We’re here to tell you that those feelings are totally valid and that there is nothing wrong with taking a day to relax and watch some tasty television. If you’re still nervous about giving in to those sloth-like urges though, maybe compromise by bingeing cooking shows – which are fun and entertaining, but also normally help you learn a thing or two as well.
Perhaps you want to see some of the world’s best chefs share their top tips, or you are wondering why everyone has become so obsessed with putting cannabis oil in food? Or maybe you enjoy the competition element of cooking shows, placing bets with your friends on who you think is going to take the crown.
Whatever your reason for wanting to tune in to some of the best cooking shows on television, we hope our varied list has something that takes your fancy. We have even categorised the shows by the streaming services they are available on, so that you don’t need to worry about not knowing where to watch a show.
Check out our top picks below and remember that sometimes, it’s perfectly fine to just relax.
Best cooking shows on Netflix
We are thankful to Netflix for many things, but chief among them is its abundance of cooking shows, which allow for all the fun and frolics of being in the kitchen, without any of the calories (unless you plan spectator snacks like we do.) Check out the best cooking shows to stream on Netflix below.
The Chef’s Table
The Chef’s Table was the first ever docu-series that Netflix released off its own back and the content was a sign of all the good things yet to come from Netflix Originals. Each episode focuses on a renowned chef from a different part of the world and explores what makes them tick. Our favourite episode features London’s very own Asma Khan, owner of Soho’s Darjeeling Express.
In a similar vein to Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown, this part-travel part-cooking show from David Chang sees the chef (who founded the Momofuku group) explore the cultural importance of food scenes within the US. The stories here often take unexpected twist and turns, with the show serving as a reminder that food often bears more political weight than people think.
From the same team as Chef’s Table, Street Food is a series of 30-minute long episodes which explore the array of street food markets around the world. The show makes pains to highlight the human aspect of the food world, telling the stories of the traders behind the stalls and revealing what it’s really like to work in some of the most famous street food markets on the planet.
Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat
While the name of this cooking documentary doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, it sure is bingeworthy. Follow New York Times Magazine’s food columnist Samin Nosrat as she travels the world to prove that salt, fat, acid and heat are essential components of a delicious dish. If you find yourself becoming really invested, the series has a companion book that you can read too.
The Final Table
The Final Table sees 12 pairs of chefs from across the globe go head-to-head. The chefs complete a series of grueling challenges, preparing dishes for other esteemed chefs, food critics and celebrities. One team is sent home in each episode, with the winning pair eventually earning a spot at the final table with nine culinary legends who have been featured in the series.
Flipping the traditional competition format on its head, this addictive baking show actually celebrates the failures of its contestants, rather than their accomplishments (in case you haven’t realised, the show’s title is sarcastic). Watch as teams of amateur bakers attempt to pull off nigh on impossible bakes, with often hilarious results.
Effectively an antidote to the subtlety and tweeness of The Great British Bake Off, Sugar Rush is a colourful assault on the senses which turns the normally relaxing activity of baking into a high-pressured contest. Each episode sees four teams battle it out to create the most visually pleasing (and delicious tasting) desserts, with the winners taking home a hefty cash prize.
Cooking on High
We have all witnessed the growing trend for CBD-infused dishes and drinks on the restaurant scene and Cooking on High attempts to unpack this with its dope (geddit?) offering. Each episode sees cannabis enthusiasts cook up a storm using their favourite ingredient to whip up some seriously chill recipes.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner
David Chang’s second outing on Netflix is a star-studded affair, which sees him team up with the likes of Chrissy Teigen and Seth Rogen. Each episode follows Chang and his celebrity chums as they explore the food scene in various cities around the globe and partake in interesting discussions about the importance of authenticity when it comes to food.
Worst Cooks in America
If laughing at the culinary misfortunes of others is one of life’s little pleasures for you (guilty), start streaming Worst Cooks in America. Each series sees eight amateur cooks being mentored by expert chefs Anne Burrell and Robert Irvine to hone their kitchen skills and the results are often hilarious. Don’t feel too bad though, as the winner walks away with a £25k cash prize.
Best cooking shows on iPlayer
People might have strong opinions about the BBC, but pretty much everyone can agree that they know how to produce a seriously good cooking show. If you’ve missed the episodes when they were first broadcast, check out the best cooking boxsets on iPlayer below.
Having been on air since 1990, MasterChef is the grand dame of cooking shows on terrestrial television. It’s launched an abundance of spin-offs too, including Celebrity MasterChef and MasterChef: The Professionals. Whichever edition you choose to watch though, you can expect scathing critiques from judging duo John Torode and Greg Wallace.
Best Home Cook
If you’ve been missing Mary Berry on your TV screens ever since she departed GBBO, you’ll be glad to know that her judging skills have found a new home on Best Home Cook. This competition, co-hosted by Angela Hartnett, Chris Bavin and Claudia Winkleman, takes 10 amateur chefs and puts them through their paces to be crowned Britain’s best home cook.
Great British Menu
Since launching back in 2006, Great British Menu has become a staple of the BBC’s cooking programme schedule. The series sees professional chefs compete to win a place at the Great British Menu banquet and has helped the careers of some UK chefs to sky-rocket, including Tom Brown, who opened his debut restaurant Cornerston after winning the show.
A former star of Dirty Sanchez (think Britain’s answer to prank show Jackass) is hardly the most obvious advocate for veganism, but that’s exactly what Mathew Prichard is trying to do in this quirky show. He’s on a mission to make his native Wales healthier, by introducing locals to the benefits of veganism, and whips up a few delectable recipes on his way too.
Best cooking shows on ITV Hub
Forget about Love Island, we think that ITV’s clutch of cooking programmes is among the best of the channel’s offering. Catch up with all the best food and restaurant shows with our top picks from streaming service ITV Hub.
Million Pound Menu
Think Dragons Den, but for restaurants. This high-octane show sees budding restaurateurs present their existing concepts to a panel of restaurant experts and investors, with the hope of achieving mass expansion. Both the business plans and food are picked apart by the team of experts and the show is hosted by First Dates star Fred Sireix.
Ok, so maybe this one stretches the definition of ‘cooking show’, but we can’t get enough of it. Each episode sees a singleton pick three mystery menus that they like the sound of, before heading off a blind date with the people behind the menus. You’re unlikely to be inspired to get in the kitchen here, but the awkward small talk on these dates is nothing short of brilliant.
Best cooking shows on All 4
Channel 4 is perhaps more famous for its off-the-wall programming than its cooking shows, but in recent years a few good ones have popped up. Check out our top picks of cooking shows on All 4 below.
The Great British Bake Off
Few shows have captured the imagination of the British public like Bake Off (remember all that drama over a Baked Alaska that ended up being tossed in the bin?) and although the show has moved from the BBC to Channel 4, it’s still massively popular. Tune in for plenty of double entendres, as well as a lot of steely stares from blue-eyed judge Paul Hollywood.
Ok, it might be true that the food on this long-running dating show hardly ever gets a look in, but we still thought it was worthy of inclusion on our list. Mainly because of the show’s universalism (who among us hasn’t been on an awkward dinner date?) and because, up until this year, the show was filmed in an actual London restaurant – Paternoster Chophouse in St Paul’s.
Prefer to get your foodie knowlegde on the move? Check out our pick of the best food podcasts you can listen to.